It appears Vladimir Putin’s burgeoning career in Hollywood may be over before it begins. The sitting Russian president was originally going to be portrayed in two forthcoming movies but the character has since been cut, according to a THR report. The first film is Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence as a CIA double agent. Putin played a key role in the book the film is based on, but was ultimately dropped from the adaptation. A portrayal of the president was also to appear in Kursk—a true story about a Russian submarine that sank in the Barents Sea back in 2000—to the point that he even appeared in early drafts of the screenplay.
But everybody is afraid to portray Putin in any way that could be considered negative. “For a studio to release a movie about Putin that makes him look like a fool would be suicide,” said Ajay Arora, CEO of security firm Vera. “That’s a certain way to be targeted [for retaliation].” And while movies with Russian villains are in high demand, filmmakers are wary of the lessons learned from the Sony hack a few years ago. When North Korea was displeased with Seth Rogen’s mocking of their leader in The Interview, the country retaliated by hacking Sony and releasing several of their movies and emails.
We still aren’t entirely sure what Russia’s hacking capabilities are, but they certainly seem impressive. Movie studios aren’t ready to try and fend off real-life hackers just yet. If the way they tend to portray counter-hacking is any indication, that’s a wise choice on their part.